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Delivering the “Deliverers” – Highlights from Women Deliver Conference 2013


Marshall Ukpoma delivers emotional plea for healthcare improvementsFrom the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos-Nigeria, over the lovely Indian Ocean to the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, it certainly was worth flying over 15 hours to arrive at the Kuala Lumpur convention center for the Women Deliver 3rd Global Conference.

According to President of Women Deliver Jill W. Sheffield, guests from about 145 countries were hosted in this year’s conference with the hope that one day, through the collaboration of every stakeholder, women across all geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural lines will have access to the care they need, and no woman will die giving life.

This year’s event featured various sessions of talks, focusing on women and girls, delivered by experts and policy makers across genders, sectors and generations, and from around the globe.

Pre-conference events took off at various centers in KL, Malaysia, and it would have been an incomplete event if issues concerning preeclampsia and eclampsia were not discussed! Thanks to support from Sabrina’s foundation USA, USAID, MCHIP, the PRE-eclampsia Eclampsia Monitoring Prevention and Treatment Team, University of British Columbia (PRE-EMPT - UBC) successfully organized a symposium on preeclampsia and eclampsia, tagged Pre-eclampsia 2013: A Global Symposium.

As a committed patient advocate on preeclampsia and eclampsia issues, I was at the symposium, sharing my story from the book 283 Nights after I Do to further strengthen the global call for better patient/community and health care worker awareness in the fight to extinct every preventable maternal and/or perinatal death and morbidity caused by pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.

It was sad to know that some health care providers still stuck to the use of diazepam for management of preeclamptic seizure! Do you know one of such providers? Here’s an advice from Dr. Peter von Dadelszen (PRE-EMPT principal investigator) to fellow health care providers: “If your colleague wants you to administer valium, then go ahead, but give the valium to your colleague and give your patient magnesium sulfate (MgSO4).”

Fears related to the use of MgSO4 as preferred drug for preventing and managing eclamptic seizures were debunked by Dr. Jeffrey M. Smith (MCHIP) as he showed reviews which indicated a low incidence of severe side effect (generally 1-2%) directly attributed to use of MgSO4. Indeed MgSO4 is a life-saving, safe intervention.

Moving forward, is there yet a challenge with the use of magnesium sulphate? Perhaps!

Magnesium sulphate comes from manufacturers in different packaging and formulations and this poses a challenge for some health providers who have difficulty diluting the drug and calculating the required dose. These packaging and formulation variants have been identified as culprits in some cases of magnesium sulphate under doses or over doses.


As awareness about preeclampsia and eclampsia rises, we also lend our voices to the global policy makers in drug formulation to provide magnesium sulphate in just one or a maximum of two formulations that facilitate usage and foster acceptability.

A call for joint action: Let’s give life back to those who have been giving life since the human race started!

* USAID – United States Agency for International Development

* MCHIP – Mother and Child Health Integrated Program

[Editor's Note: Marshall Ukpoma's wife died from preeclampsia in 2009 and, since then, he has been a tireless advocate in Nigeria on behalf of our mission to drive awareness and education. This week, he was representing the Preeclampsia Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Women Deliver conference, speaking at the Preeclampsia Symposium.]

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